What Careers Can I Find in Small Airport Management?

Explore the career requirements for small airport managers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does Small Airport Management Do?

Small airport managers maintain airports that are small enough for general aviation pilots to use and not major commercial airlines. As a manager you would oversee the productivity of airport operations and personnel. This include hiring and training new new staff, creating schedules, and evaluating staff performance. You would need to be able to evaluate the needs of the airport as a business, and organize your staff and activities to meet those needs.

Below is a table that outlines some of the job requirements for small airport managers.

Degree Required High school diploma or bachelor's degree, depending on the size of airport
Education Field of Study Airport management, business administration or aeronautical or civil engineering
Licensure Pilot's license may be needed
Key Duties Supervise the safety and maintenance of an airport, negotiate lease agreements with airport tenants and possibly give flying lessons or work in aircraft maintenance
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -0.7% (for all administrative services managers in the air transportation industry)
Median Salary (2017)** $59,532 (for all airport managers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Is Small-Airport Management?

As of 2014, there were 13,863 private use airports and 5,145 public use airports in the United States, and of those, a small portion of these served major commercial airlines. The rest may be considered small and are used by general aviation pilots and their aircraft, according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Library (www.ntl.bts.gov). Managing a small airport may be different than running a larger, commercial airport, but it requires the attention of an airport manager and perhaps an assistant manager, along with security personnel and other aviation professionals. The smaller the airport, the more the manager may be involved in day-to-day operations.

What's the Job Like?

As an airport manager, you are responsible for running an airport on behalf of its owners, which may be private companies or local governments. Depending on the authority given by owners, airport managers or directors may develop rules and enforce them, supervise safety and maintenance and negotiate lease agreements with tenants. Duties vary depending on the size of the airport and ownership. For government-owned airports, managers may spend time attending government meetings and working on local airport-related issues. If you worked as a manager at a small airport, you may also be giving flying lessons or working in aircraft maintenance, according to the FAA.

How Can I Prepare for a Career in Small-Airport Management?

For larger airports, a bachelor's degree in airport management, business administration or aeronautical or civil engineering may be the minimum requirement for getting a manager's job, according to the FAA. In smaller airports, a high school diploma and a pilot's license may be all that's needed. If you are interested in airport management, programs are available on many levels, including associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree. Bachelor's degree programs often include pilot's training and business coursework.

How Is the Pay?

According to PayScale.com the median salary of airport managers as of January, 2017 was $59,532. This does not include bonuses or profit sharing, and the salary may vary depending on the location and size of the airport.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Air traffic controllers communicate with pilots to inform them of nearby aircraft, flight conditions, landing conditions, landing instructions and takeoff instructions. Many air traffic controllers only have a high-school diploma, though several have a post-secondary certificate or a bachelor's degrees. Airfield operations specialists ensure the safety of airfields, responds to medical emergencies on airfields, manage the wildlife in the area and coordinate with air traffic controls, civil engineers and command posts to keep airfields operational. While some of these professionals only have a high-school diploma, most have an associate's or bachelor's degree.

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